Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN)

 

Along one area of Cane River, a long ridge bordered by several streams and streamlets, there developed a particular concentration –Isle Brevelle. It evolved into a small rural France. The Creole people of Isle Brevelle grew crops and served one another as artisans, shoemakers, woodworkers, incomparable cooks and farmers. A few families rose among their fellows- the Metoyers, the Roques and the Silves. Harnet T. Lane in Plantation Parade, states:

“No name became more resplendent among its fellows than that of the Metoyers”.

The head man of Isle Brevelle was generally recognized as Augustin Metoyer–Grand-père.  Augustin was affectionately known as the “Big Father” of his community.

 

Along a turn in the river where the soil lay rich and thick, Grand-père chose a site for his house. It was a simple heavily timbered structure of brick and mud between posts with an overhanging roof.  In the 1830s, Augustin shifted the command of his properties to his son Louis Metoyer. A finer house was contructed that architects of a later generation would pronounce a minor masterpiece, admirable in style and material.

Kane describes this house in these terms:

¨It was a low structure, broad but close to the earth, the openings entirely free of ornament, a plain gallery railing at the upper level, the timbers uncovered at the ceilings-the whole built to last.¨

From the gallery rail the family could “catch the sheen of the waters through clumps of spiked Spanish daggers (an evergreen shrub). That vista gave the name to the plantation–Yucca. Yucca (now know as Melrose) was completed in 1833.” The family lived here in the peaceful seculsion of this harmonious setting. Augustine often received callers, lent his house to the missionaries for their services until he eventually decided to provide the church with a building on Isle Brevelle. It was in July of 1829 that Father Jean Baptiste Blanc dedicated this structure to the glory of his God.

Of all his numerous accomplishments, Grandpere appeared prouder of this act than of anything he had done. Today, a full length portrait of Augustin Metoyer hangs in the St. Augustin Catholic Church. This thriving and vibrant Catholic Church, while not the original structure, serves the Creole Community and others of Isle Brevelle today and is a lasting testimony to a most remarkable man.¨

 

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St. Augustin Catholic Church, Melrose

 

Melrose Plantation, 1833

Big House, Melrose Plantation

Cane River, Isle Brevelle